Think of the things that feel precious to you: when asked this question, I think of wild berries. What do we want for the things that are precious to us? We want them to thrive in abundance.
As Indigenous people, we are intrinsic parts of communities that have been deliberately marginalized into a failure to thrive for generations; embrace abundance anyway. The narrative of scarcity so often fed to us is not our narrative; it is a colonial means to excuse the cruel act of withholding, to mask the ways in which poverty is manufactured and maintained as a weapon against us. Hunger and lack are not our birthright; our ancestors prayed for better days for us than that. Capitalism and colonialism will wield fear and scarcity like daggers; they can’t sink through the fat and the glut of our rich ancestral inheritance. And what’s precious to us deserves to thrive.
I love to pick berries for my loved ones. The motion of reaching toward the branch, rolling the berry off the stem, and parting my fingers above the basket to hear the soft, satisfying thud – that series of actions is a prayer. I give thanks for the abundance that helped each berry to thrive – sunshine, warmth, moisture, air, a community of compatible plant kin – and I give thanks for the nourishment my loved ones will receive when it reaches their bellies. These prayers and this gratitude are one way I tend to my relationship to berries, tend to their thriving. Around my home, I delicately prune the huckleberries and blueberries, salal and thimbleberries, gooseberries and salmonberries and even the low-lying stink currant. I commit to their abundance year-round, watering them in the dry spells, fertilizing them with the bloody water left over when I clean fish. Berries want to thrive – they are hardwired for abundance – and because they are precious to me, I believe it’s my responsibility to be in service of their thriving too.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s true that it feels like it at first. When I was a small child, berries were a spontaneous delight; they manifested in their own place and time, which felt inherently magical, and I didn’t think about them when they weren’t in front of me. When I began to recognize them as something precious over which I had some agency, it felt like an intimidating task to provide loving care. But as I came into relationship with berries as a grown woman, my commitment to their thriving became deliberate. I had to shift my mindset. I had to think about berries, whether they were in season or not; I had to become intimate with the ways they communicate their wellness and their needs; I had to understand them in a cyclical sense, a generational sense, and discover how I could come into alignment. I had to commit to uplifting them in the unshakeable belief that they deserve riches.
For me, berries have become a meditation on abundance. I still enjoy the spontaneous gifts, palms and fingertips stained by wild blueberries when I’m wandering in the forest. But I’ve also trained my body in the motions of care and reciprocity, of reaching, of rolling the ripe berries off the stem, of running my fingers through the leaves to feel whether they need water or light or sweet fish blood, of caressing the joints and knuckles of each shrub to feel where spent stems are asking to be cut back to let sunshine and air circulate deeply. This hard work becomes an ingrained philosophy rooted in muscle memory with each season’s deepening belief in the inherent right of berries to be abundant – and the inherent responsibility I hold to uplift them. This practice of care has now become as routine to me as breathing.
How do we care for the things that are precious to us? Ideally, I believe we practice care confidently and with open hearts. Sometimes we practice care recklessly, unconditionally, even when we’re unsure if the love will be well-received or reciprocated. Often, we practice care unsure of what is right but trusting that we will learn along the way. And ultimately, we nourish what we love because we want it to thrive.
For some of us, we apply this care to our motherlands or our children, our communities, our language, our culture. It’s love in service of our families, our history, our kin, our climate. We believe that our love is capable of being protective and transformative. We wield love like a revolutionary tool for collective abundance. In a society that is built on our systemic oppression, do you know that your love is political? Do you know that your commitment to thriving is an act of resistance?
When you think of what’s precious to you, never forget yourself. If your love is capable of being protective and transformative, if you truly believe the act of providing care brings beauty and safety and joy into the world, sister, brother, relative, you are precious. You are part of a generational manifestation of ancestral abundance. Tend to abundance in your full ancestral power. Tend to yourself with the same sweet practice of care you bring to your kin and community. Tend to yourself until the work you do to support your own thriving and abundance is also a meditation rooted in muscle memory. Tend to what you love and love yourself until your practice is second nature, ingrained in your marrow.
Colonial society will whisper in your ear at every turn that you are undeserving of abundance: laugh. We deserve everything our ancestors prayed for us, and we will count our abundance one berry at a time. When I tell people I believe in abundance, they often scoff. I never take this personally because I understand that fear is how we echo back colonial harm we may not even realize we’ve internalized. But in a colonized world that depends on our oppression, communities of care predicated on shared abundance should be normalized, spoken of with joy, and incorporated into our rituals and practices of love until we believe at our core that we deserve to thrive like our ancestors dreamed for us – and act accordingly.
I believe in abundance, I believe in berries, and I believe in our ancestral legacies. I believe our love is revolutionary and our right to thrive is inherent. I believe in you. May you find courage in rejecting fear and scarcity and may you find joy in inviting abundance into your communities of kinship and care. May your abundance mentality inspire others and transform the world around you into a brighter and healthier place.